TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Leanna: Hi, thanks so much for having me here today! I love that word ‘quirk’. Don’t you? I just love the sound of it. And quirky often fits my writing because I tend to write quirky characters or situations. It’s because I think outside the box. Sometimes waaaaay outside the box.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers?
Leanna: I have a wide assortment of favorites, and lots of bookshelves stuffed to the brim. Yes, I still like actual books even though I have an e-reader. There’s just something magical about holding an actual book, thumbing back to reread a wonderfully written section or peeking ahead. I wouldn’t do that though. There are so many wonderful writers, but one of my latest favorites is Geraldine Brooks. I loved her book The Year of Wonders. I also love Linda Castillo. Have you read her Amish thriller series? And then there’s southern fiction, which I adore and makes my Texas accent thicker by the page. I loved The Help by Kathryn Stockett and also Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Leanna: I’m a little of both. When I first started writing, twenty years ago, I was much more of a plotter. But over the years, I’ve learned to let go and trust my instincts. I like to have a destination in mind for my books, but I don’t always know how I’ll get there through the course of the book. It keeps me somewhat on track and yet it allows for surprises along the way.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Leanna: The initial draft is usually the hardest part for me. Once I have something on paper, then I can fix it. But getting those first words on paper is so hard.
TQ: Describe Forbidden (Plain Fear 2) in 140 characters or less.
Leanna: Rachel Nussbaum, an Amish widow, blames herself for her husband's death, but redemption may lie in her ultimate sacrifice at the hands of a vampire.
TQ: What inspired you to write the Plain Fear series?
Leanna: Plain Fear actually began as a joke. I was at a book signing and another author and I made a joke about we should write an Amish/vampire story because those were the two genres that were selling so well. It really was a joke. I didn’t rush home and start writing the book. But I suppose some seed was planted in my warped little brain and took root. Soon a character was speaking to me about her story and wanting me to write it. I resisted. But there was a very intriguing element that I couldn’t ignore. But why Amish and vampire together? Besides the superficial reason I already gave, the two really work well together with my story. The image we have of the Amish is of a simple, innocent, wholesome way of life, which is a perfect environment to place a dark, frightening, evil entity. The juxtaposition between the two works so well. In fact, part of my inspiration for this story came from The Phantom of the Opera, and how innocent Christine is and how trusting of this voice she hears in her head—the angel of music. So an Amish heroine, sheltered by the world we know, seemed perfect. Except the Amish world isn’t always as sheltered as we think. Doors can be opened to evil forces. The Plain Fear series is about good versus evil. So often we just think of evil as being dark and scary…well, it is that but it’s also alluring and appealing and attractive. If you just saw the dark, ugly, scary side of evil, who would go there? Each of the main characters in Forsaken and now Forbidden have to make tough choices.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Plain Fear series?
Leanna: I couldn’t write about the Amish without doing a lot of research. I have stacks and stacks of books, many of which I found when I visited Amish country. Ultimately, the best way to research is to go visit, and so for the first book in the series, Forsaken, I traveled to Pennsylvania. My critique partner and I had a great time peering into the lives of the Amish and sampling their incredible food. Whoopie pie. I’m telling you I gained ten pounds on that trip. Then for the second book, Forbidden, I traveled to Ohio and a smaller Amish community. My friend, Shelley Shepard Gray took me around, because she lives in the area. The atmosphere was exactly what I needed for this book! And thankfully, I wasn’t there long enough to gain ten pounds. But I brought a bunch of Amish pretzel mixes back with me. Homemade pretzels. Yum!
TQ: In the series so far who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
Leanna: Roc was not easy but he was a lot of fun because he always surprised me. At first, it was hard to write from the different Amish characters’ points of view until I got past the clothes and to the heart of the characters. People are people.
TQ: Which character in the series has surprised you the most?
Leanna: Rachel, who is one of the main characters in Forbidden, has an Amish façade but inside she is struggling with some issues that are very much what you or me might struggle with. I worried a bit about remembering what it was like to be pregnant as it’s been a few years since I was. But I really enjoyed writing from Rachel’s perspective. She was fascinating to me. A reviewer called her a lioness at heart, and I loved that. She is. I’m not sure I ever saw her that way because I was more focused on her flaws and fears but she is definitely a lioness.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Forbidden?
Leanna: Oh that is such a hard question. There are so many that I could pull out but ultimately my favorite is the climax, and I cannot say a word about it. ;) I always love when everything culminates in a story and decisions have to be made and the choices characters made have severe consequences. I love that!
TQ: What's next?
Leanna: I’m working on book #3 of the Plain Fear series called FORGIVEN. It releases in August 2013.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery
Leanna: Thank you so much for having me here! I appreciate it and had fun answering your questions. If your readers have any questions, please ask away and I’ll try to answer them.
About Plain Fear
ForbiddenPlain Fear 2
Sourcebooks, August 1, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages
She blames herself for her husband's death. But for Rachel Schmidt Nussbaum, redemption may only lie in the ultimate sacrifice.
When a stranger arrives claiming only she can save him, Rachel's impulsive instincts lead her on a perilous journey, one that leads her to a battle that will decide both the fate of her soul and the life of her unborn child.
A far–from–ordinary story of love and desperation, sin and sacrifice, Amish faith and vampire lore, Plain Fear: Forbidden is an imaginative thrill ride that's like nothing you've ever read before.
ForsakenPlain Fear 1
Sourcebooks, August 2, 2011
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages
Hannah cannot move on.
She pines for Jacob, the boy who saved her life when she drowned, bringing her back from the brink of death by breathing life into her.
But Jacob is gone now, buried.
Levi’s love for Hannah burns just as strong. But he knows how much Hannah loved his brother Jacob. He also knows the troubling event that took Jacob out of their lives. And he lives with that lie every day.
So when a stranger named Akiva comes to their community, he carries with him two secrets that will change their lives forever: he is in fact Jacob, whom Hannah had lost. And he is now a vampire.
When passions stir and secrets are revealed, Hannah must choose between light and dark, between the one she has always loved and the new possibility of love. But it’s more than a choice of passion; it’s a decision that will determine the fate of her soul.
www.leannaellis.com, follow her on Twitter, @LeannaEllis, and “like” her on Facebook.
What: One commenter will win a copy of Forbidden (Plain Fear 2) from Sourcebooks! US/Canada ONLY
How: Leave a comment OR ask Leanna a question.
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Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a United States or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Wednesday, August 29, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.
*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*